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Buying cantaloupe problems

I read that when buying cantaloupe you should be able to tap your palm to it and it should sound hallow and when I followed this advice the cantaloupe I bought was way way too ripe and looked disgusting inside.

Previously I had purchased two extremely unripe cantaloupes. I am getting sick of buying tasteless and overly ripe cantaloupe. Any tips? Buying off the salad bar is so over priced that I would rather not to do that. Thanks.

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  1. smell the blossom end, it should smell like fresh cantalope, but not overly ripe.

    If there is no smell, it's not ripe.

    5 Replies
    1. re: LaurCar

      Thanks, but I don't think I would know the difference b/w the smell of fresh versus overly ripe cantaloupe.

      1. re: mandm11

        If you push at the stem end, it should give slightly but not too much. To know the difference, i guess you can only learn from experience. The only other option would be to go to a produce stand/farms market and tell them exactly what level of ripeness you are looking for and have them pick it out for you.

        1. re: mandm11

          Fresh--it smells lovely, delicious. Overly ripe: cloying, rotten, overly sweet. Likely there would be other signs, like mushiness.

          1. re: Mandymac


            You can really smell the difference and find other tell tail signs of over-ripeness, but smelling the blossom end (where the flower was connected to the melon) really works, and yes, the spot should give slightly too!

          2. re: mandm11

            The best way I've found to determine the smell of fresh vs overly ripe / not ripe is to smell a bunch of them and compare. It gets a little awkward when you're at the market smushing your face into 3, 4, 5 melons, but once you find one that REALLY smells good, you'll know you have a good one.

        2. If you can't get a ripe cantaloupe, you can get one with a bit of green on it and store it in a paper bag, or one of those ripening bowls. You will know when it's ready because of the smell.

          1. The melon vendor at last week's farmers market told me to buy one with "heavy netting", you know, the contrasting green and yellow pattern on the outside of the melon. I chose one and he told me that when the stem end could be compressed or bent from side to side, the melon would be ready--and it was!

            1. Well, if you buy your canteloupes at Vons/Safeway/Pavilions per store policy you can return them for a refund if you're not completely satisfied. Same is true for Trader Joes.

              Don't know if you have one near you (this being your first post), but just something to keep in mind.

              1. In my experience it depends on where the melon ripened - on the vine or on the shelf. If I can get a freshly picked melon at a market or stand i want to see an orange tinge behind the webbing and a strong smell from the melon itself. I check to see if the spot where it rested on the ground is still sound. I often end up with a melon that's over the edge slightly, but i general get one that 's oran, but, if they're unavailable, a firm melon with less sweetness is welcome.

                1 Reply
                1. re: DockPotato

                  This is what Alton Brown recommends - and I have followed his advice since I saw that show years ago, and never again had an unripe melon. I look for the flat brown spot - the spot where it riped on the ground. If there isn't one, it didn't ripen on the vine - whether it's shelf ripened or still unripe is moot to me - I don't want it. Over-ripe is pretty obvious, soft spots and too strong of a smell. But one that has the ground-ripened spot and is firm, is almost always just right.

                2. I do all three things:
                  1. Smell the blossom end - like the other posters say, it should smell ripe but not overripe (i.e. it should smell like a melon you want to eat);
                  2. I thump the melon with my finger (I flick it with my middle finger by pushing off my thumb, if that makes sense) and the sound should resonate - if it sounds solid, it's underripe; and
                  3. lightly press the blossom end and make sure there is a little give, but not too much (same with avocados).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: akq

                    sage advice.
                    CHECK EVERY WAY YOU CAN. I do these three also. One more very important thing:
                    Only buy them when they are in season! For the most part, the REALLY good ones will be June through mid Oct. Peak would be July - Mid September. Everyone asks me how I get such good fruit - I'd say 90% of it is knowing what is in season.

                  2. I check that the color of the skin under the webbing is cream to tan to orangy...never had a bad one yet!

                    1. I feel so kinky smelling cantaloupe bottoms; I love it!

                      1. When I read this query I remembered reading a lengthy passage in Philip Roth's memoir Patrimony. Roth's elderly widowed father complains about his girlfriend: "She can't even buy a cantaloupe."

                        His son responds: "Look, a cantaloupe is a hard thing to buy -- maybe the hardest thing there is to buy, when you stop to think about it. A cantaloupe isn't an apple, you know, where you can tell from the outside what's going on inside. I'd rather buy a car than a cantaloupe -- I'd rather buy a house than a cantaloupe. If one time in ten I come away from the store with a decent cantaloupe, I consider myself lucky."

                        Roth goes on and on and on and it becomes clear that he is talking about the unkowability not only of the interior of melons but of the human heart. It's a pretty memorable passage - I read the book years ago, and as soon as I read this post, I thought of it and was lucky enough to be able to find it when I Googled it.

                        Anyhow, I realize that none of this will do you any good when you next shop for a canteloupe, but it might provide some consolation to know that this quandry has been addressed in literature.

                        1 Reply